Raul Torres, a retired custodian, lived on a corner lot in south central Los Angeles. When his wife of forty-five years passed away, he transformed his yard into a memorial garden. Flowers, fruit trees, herbs, vegetables, and rows of roses, his beloved’s favorite, flourished under his care.
One morning, he discovered several rosebushes butchered as if assaulted with a machete. Two days later, it happened again. Holding vigil another morning, he spied who did it. A young boy, walking with a cane after a gang bullet nicked his leg, pummeled yet another bush. When he saw Raul in the window, he spit with defiance and left.
Raul could see the boy’s despair, and he felt mercy. Instead of turning him in, he found the boy later that day. He shared that he had a problem with his rosebushes. The boy swore innocence. That’s not what Raul meant. Raul wanted to hire the boy to protect them. Raul would pay him, and teach him how to garden along the way. Though skeptical, the boy dropped by. He took to gardening and to Raul. From that day forward, the garden was never vandalized again.
When God restores God’s reign, the psalmist declares, mercy and truth, justice and peace will embrace. The fruits of faith’s fullness will rise from the ground, and the land’s harvest will flourish. How do we wait for the coming of God’s reign? We lay out a path for God’s footsteps, a path of righteousness and compassion.
Raul makes a path for God. And God is faithful. The soil of Raul’s mercy, laced with justice and the invitation to right relationship, takes root. Healing rises from the ground, as does new life. God’s regenerative Spirit follows the path laid out, transforming despair’s wilderness into a garden’s abundance.
As we await your reign, O God, help us lay a path for your coming, a path of mercy and truth, justice and peace. Amen.
Hopeful anticipation characterizes this week’s texts. God’s people have come to terms with their inability to save themselves. Isaiah 40 states that Jerusalem has “served her term” in bondage to sin; a new era is about to dawn. Psalm 85 continues the theme of old sins forgiven, emphasizing an urgent need for some fresh outbreak of God’s initiatives. Harmonious and responsible relationships are to dominate the hearts of the people. Thoughts of righteousness and peace also pervade the passage from 2 Peter 3. Yet the focus is clearly on Christ’s Second Advent. His coming will be sudden and unannounced; the new creation will then appear. The Gospel text focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus as John the baptizer comes to sensitize all hearts to the advent of the One promised long ago.
• Read Isaiah 40:1-11. God’s word of comfort brings challenge as well: How are you preparing the way of the Lord?
• Read Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13. What glimpses of heaven in your daily life give you con dence in God’s steadfast love?
• Read 2 Peter 3:8-15a. How are you using this time of Advent waiting to move toward more faithful living?
• Read Mark 1:1-8. John identified himself as “messenger.” How would you identify your role in working toward the reign of Christ?
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